Playlist of Life #2

18 Jul

I have a slight confession to make.

At times, I can be a chart snob.

I have friends who are worse, and to be fair, in this case there was some justification. Not that it really matters, because I only hurt myself by not listening to this amazing song earlier. I’ve had it on repeat for the last few days (mainly while writing) because it’s just so catchy. This is music at its best-simple melody, meaningful lyrics, and addictive beat.

I hope you love this song as much as I do.

Incidental Poetry

17 Jul

So as a result of too much free time and the determination to use Sky Atlantic before it gets cancelled, I have become addicted to The X Files. As should be partly obvious, I was too young to watch it when it first came out, but I’m making up for lost time (finished Series 1, partway through Series 2). And while I was watching clips on YouTube (the bloopers are hilarious), I came across this, and-not to be too cheesy-it spoke to me in such a way that I thought I really had to post it.

And here are the words:

Grief squeezed at her eggshell heart.
Like it might break into a thousand pieces.
Its contents running like broken promises
into the hollow places his love used to fill.
How could she know this pain would end?
That love, unlike matter or energy,
was in endless supply in the universe…
A germ which grows from nothingness
which cannot be eradicated even from the darkest of hearts.
If she had known this, and who could say she would believe it?
She would not have chanced to remain at his sad grave
until such an hour so that she might not have to learn the second truth before the first:
That to have love was to carry a vessel that could be lost or stolen
or worse, spilled blood-red on the ground.
And that love was not immutable and could become hate as day
becomes night as life becomes death.

How to…make a Digital Silhouette

17 Jul

I’ve always loved silhouettes-they’re simple, elegant, and they always look like they took a very long time. But actually, as I’ve recently been discovering (I have a lot of time on my hands), they’re very simple. Almost too simple.

So this is a tutorial on how to make a digital silhouette using in my case GIMP, but I’m sure the principles are similar to Photoshop. I use GIMP because…well, because it’s free. It is a little more complicated than Photoshop, and requires some playing around until you’re sure how to use it, but it is worth it.

Anyway, for this tutorial I used a photo of Lanhydrock, a NT house in South England. Go, it’s lovely. And this silhouette isn’t the most sophisticated, but then you only need to know the rudiments.

So here goes.

1. Open the image you want to make a Silhouette of in GIMP. Open the layers box (in GIMP, press CTRL+L) and create two new layers: I called these “Fill” and “Shadow”.

2. Next, select the “Paths Tool” (the pen with squares on a line) from the tool box. Now, some people turn the zoom up to about 150-200% at this point, but I was doing it roughly so didn’t bother. Normally, probably a good thing, because what you do now is click around the shape you want to create a silhouette of. As you can see from the video link below, I did mine very basically, but the more effort you put in, the better it will be.

3. Once you’ve done this, press ENTER and the line will start flashing. Now click the “Selection from path” box at the side, before clicking “Fill” (the bucket). Make sure that your fill is set to “FG Colour Fill” (foreground) and that that’s black. Now, click your outlined shape. It might take a few seconds to fill, but hopefully it will!

4. Now right click on the newly blackened shape and go to “Select”, then “None”. Finally, go back to fill and switch the box to “BG Colour Fill” (background). Click on the background of the shape and there you have it-a silhouetted image!

How to Make a Silhouette using GIMP

Above is a link to the video I made to show the process. Please ignore the weird hum early on- wasn’t sure it was recording sound and thought that would be a good way to check. I don’t know, I may be missing human company too much.

And here is a silhouette I did of myself:
As you can see, a little extra caution wouldn’t have gone amiss, but it isn’t bad for a first attempt. Also, make sure you use a good photo-I was slouching in mine so I had to create a neck for myself (not that it went too badly…).

The Oxymoronic Rape Joke

12 Jul

I take no small amount of pride in calling myself a feminist.

The last few days have been very hectic, hence the lack of time to post anything (sorry), but this is a topic that’s been on my mind a lot recently. It’s also popping up in the media more and more, and after an overheard conversation a few days ago, I decided I needed to write my own feelings on it.

The topic is, of course, the prevalance of sexism today-and particularly the use of rape jokes in society. Now, to any sane person that should itself be an oxymoron. How can there ever be anything funny about rape? How could anything to do with rape ever make anyone laugh? But somehow it does.

A few years ago everyone was using them (“the wind just raped my hair”, “I’m just raping the chocolate off this biscuit”, “you raped my make up!”), but thankfully this has died down. Not the use of “gay” before anything considered vaguely uncool (which I also hate passionately) though.

But I realised how common the thoughts are on the bus the other day. The conversation in turn was from a group of 17 year old boys on a bus. Now, brief context-these boys go to an all boys school, and all have since the age of at least 11. They all have girlfriends (and the conversations they have about sex, how “needy” their girlfriends are, and what they’re going to do to their girlfriends routinely turn my stomach). But in this case, they were talking about raping each other. I can’t promise an exact transcript, but I’ll do my best.

A: Oh yeah, I totally find you really hot. Come here and we’ll do it now, in front of everyone.

B: Ah, no, I don’t want to, I’m not feeling it.

A: I’ll just have to go over there and rape you, you know you want to really.

(Cue hysterics)

And there was more (which was worse), but I can’t remember it exactly. Suffice it to say I wanted to punch them by the time I got off.

But those boys (there’s no way they can be descirbed as men, despite their age), are meant to be the next generation. They’re not stupid, they’re not uneducated, and they’re supposedly not unaware. So why do they look at something as horrific as rape, and find it hilarious? I’m a seventeen year old girl, and whenever I go out late at night in the dark, I get prettily easily spooked. All you ever hear on the news about 17 year olds are horror stories about attacks (and prejudicial stories against them). So it’s no wonder that the sight of a man standing on a street corner alone late at night scares me. And it shouldn’t; that man is in all likelihood completely innocent of any thoughts I might suspect him to have. But I feel like you can’t be too sure. It’s not even that bad for me, I don’t live in a particularly crime ridden city. But still I feel I fear. If I do, what must it be like in cities like London or New York?

And those boys, who spread the jokes about rape, who act as though it’s hilarious, have no idea. No concept, and no imagination to even try.

It would be wonderful if I could feel reassured that not all 17 year old boys think that way, but sadly the misogynists on the bus are my only point of reference. And they scare me more than anything else.

The Use of YOLO

9 Jul

This  has been popping up everywhere recently (by which I mean school, television, facebook and the Internet. I cast a wide and varied social net). And the more I hear it, the more it annoys me.

The concept behind it is one that I wholeheartedly believe in. Taking every day with a new sense of wonder, with the knowledge that it might be your last, trying new things because you know that you only get one shot: those are all values that people should live their lives by. But isn’t it so typical of this-my-“technical generation” to shorten this well worn, time honoured, meaningful concept by making into four  somehow incredibly annoying letters?

And it’s not just that. I have a friend (whom I hope never reads this) who punctuates every sentance with a cry of “Yolo!”.

 

“What are you having for lunch?”

“YOLO!”

“These steps are really steep.”

“YOLO!”

“I like your top!”

“YOLO!”

 

So, understandably, for me the phrase has nearly lost all meaning.  And I’m sure it’s not just me that feels this way; the eye rolling whenever anybody says it now suggests that I’m right. But why do we have to make everything meaningless for ease of use? For further evidence, see I Regret Nothing-Edith Piaf song or dancing chicken?